More than 25 years after their Eddy Offord (Yes/ELP)- produced major-label debut The Sentinel, Aberdeen-based neo-proggers Pallas resume this tale of Cold War hostility cloaked in fantasy- heavy Atlantis-themed metaphor.
Some 25,000 years have passed and mankind remains its own worst enemy, so the Sentinel decides to put an end to its social experiment. This is the grim background to XXV, a bold and challenging collection that introduces vocalist Paul Mackie in the place of previous 26-year incumbent Alan Reed.
Mackie sings with clarity, authority and no little versatility, guiding the listener through a surprisingly heavy, often thought-provoking and rarely less than evocative selection of material. Monster is an example of the album at its most stripped-down and commercial, though the reverse is true of the symphonic-sounding Something In The Dark. And as we wait to discover whether the planet will be snuffed out, Violet Sky and The Unmakers Awake conjure a shimmering, unnerving sense of foreboding and dread.
That Pallas have summoned music grand and weighty enough to match the album’s futuristic eloquence was perhaps unlikely. But make no mistake, XXV does them enormous credit.